It’s strange to think that I haven’t been a student since 2011. I mean, “we’re always students”, but of course I’m referring to being in PT school. There are things I wish I would have known back then, and after working with students in the clinic for 6 or 7 years, I have some thoughts I’d like to share.
Maybe this will help you feel better prepared for your clinical experiences?
If you haven’t heard the phrase, “experts do the basics well”, then you’re welcome for bringing it up now! It sounds simple and easy to ignore, but please don’t do that. I know that Mark Shepherd posted about this in 2017, too. Let’s go over the reasons why some of the basics are so important to improve upon before you begin clinical experiences:
You’re wasting valuable learning time if you need to re-learn basic exam techniques in the clinic – ie: vitals, reflexes, goniometer skills, common special tests, etc. If your CI is restricted to teaching you basic techniques, then you miss out on discussing other cool stuff! Like evidence, theory, and how to communicate with patients. So, practice your hands-on skills more than you are and have more time to do the other stuff when you get to the clinic. This also wastes the patient’s time and money when things need to be repeated. I guess the silver lining for this one is that your patient may not know if you did something wrong? That’s not the point, though. Be confident and competent with your exam skills before you get to the clinic. Patient’s will throw you off by guarding, pain, or even reporting a weird symptom you weren’t expecting – let’s discuss how to work around those instead of how to do the test.